By Bill Adams
Think the music business can’t be a vicious, cut-throat field? The Subhumans can tell you otherwise and the existence of Same Thoughts Different Day is the proof. From the liner notes/explanation sheet tucked in with the disc:
*”For Many years now, Subhumans fans from many countries have been asking us to re-release our album Incorrect Thoughts. We wanted to re-release it some time ago, but there was a problem. Originally, we recorded the album with a Vancouver record label called Friends Records. But after the original formation of the band had broken up in 1982, an altered and, in our opinion, aesthetically inferior version of the album was put on sale for a time by a San Francisco label, CD Presents. How exactly this had come about was, and continues to be, a mystery.”
*”…None of the members of the band had ever authorized the release. We were never contacted by CD Presents; no royalties were ever paid to us, and we have never received an accounting of the quantities manufactured or sold.”
It’s laughable really, but rather than risk a costly legal battle, the band elected to simply re-record all the songs and call it Same Thoughts Different Day. Truth be told, it’s the best thing the band could have done too; now with more experience, some obvious improvements made to the sound (the sort that come with age and a nearly thirty-year tenure playing the songs), and an undiminished belief in the material, Subhumans come off like a renewed powerhouse rather than a bunch of snot-nosed kids or a bunch of aging punk rockers trying desperately to SOUND like snot-nosed kids.
All of that is readily evident as the band flips all the circuits on and powers through songs like “Dead At Birth,” “The Scheme,” “New Order” and “Out Of Place.” As time has passed, singer Brian Goble has adopted a huskier baritone similar to that of Greg Graffin which is more stoic than outraged, and his vocals are less rushed and nervous. At the same time, the band (Jon Card on drums, guitarist Mike Graham and bassist Gerry Hannah) all take a more methodical temperament (they’re not trying to break any land-speed records) in performance; the songs lose no venom because of that, but they are easier to follow and that’s important in this case. The tighter and tidier performance and production add greatly to the songs.
Of course, there are moments in the run-time of Same Thoughts... where listeners do have to suspend disbelief that the band playing here is poking around the fifty mark. Listeners are invited to try and not laugh at sophomoric songs like “Slave To My Dick,” “Urban Guerrillas” and “Greaser Boy” which are all a little too sour and cheesy for their own good, but there are also some surprises to be found in the previously un-realized literate lyric sheets of “Twenty-First Century,” “The Scheme” and “Big Picture” and, because the band made only slight alterations to the actual phrases, listeners will be floored at how well they translate; particularly when one remembers that the band was very young when this material was written.
So do Subhumans actually get a second chance to make a first impression with Same Thoughts Different Day? Well – yes and no. As stated, there are a few very novice tracks here and some (like “Let’s Go Down To Hollywood…”) that are very dated, but there are also quite a few gems that sound great now that they’ve been re-polished. Same Thoughts Different Day is an excellent reminder for fans that Subhumans were one of the first decent punk bands in Canada and could reignite hopes that the group will be able to do as well with fresh material next time.